Intel releases ''Lynnfield'', updates Xeon line

Today, I got this on my mailbox. Today marks the release of "Nehalem" based LGA 1156 processors:
Model Clock (GHz) Turbo
Cores/Threads Cache 1K Price Intel HT? TDP
Core™ i7-870 2.93 3.6 GHz 4/8 8 MB $562 Yes 95W
Core™ i7-860 2.80 3.46 GHz 4/8 8 MB $284 Yes 95W
Core™ i5-750 2.66 3.2 GHz 4/4 8 MB $196 No 95W
Xeon® X3470 2.93 3.6 GHz 4/8 8 MB $589 Yes 95W
Xeon® X3460 2.80 3.46 GHz 4/8 8 MB $316 Yes 95W
Xeon® X3450 2.66 3.2 GHz 4/8 8 MB $241 Yes 95W
Xeon® X3440 2.53 2.93 GHz 4/8 8 MB $215 Yes 95W
Xeon® X3430 2.40 2.8 GHz 4/4 8 MB $189 No 95W
Xeon® L3426 1.86 3.2 GHz 4/8 8 MB $284 Yes 45W

Jumping right to the point... forget the HyperThreading disabled Core i5, these are LGA 1156 Xeons for entry level servers. At $215 the Xeon X3440 is an excellent value and the X3450 clocks that same but brings HT to the table for $45 more and $43 less than the Core i7 860. Plus, Xeon processors are usually better binned, so you may find yourself with either better power consumption or more overclocking headroom. They can be found at some retailers, although availability may not be as good as Core processors right now.

The Xeon L3426, albeit high priced, is also an interesting offer. At $284 it delivers HT support, an incredible, high-end laptop typical 45W of TDP and Turbo Mode up to 3.2GHz to make up for the base lower clock. SFF PCs go spectacularly well together with this Xeon flavour, or if you'd just like a PC that saves on the energy bill.

Reviews of both the Core i7 870 and the Core i5 750 are up everywhere, although Intel has left out the most interesting CPU of the new Core i7 lineup, the i7 860. It sums up like this:


4.2GHz for the 870, around 4GHz for most. Same thing as LGA 1366 processors, give or take some. There's a voltage problem associated with the embedded PCIe controller, so the LGA 1366 platform is a better solution for now. Overclocking with stock voltage stays around 3.3GHz, worse than both the Phenom II and 1366 Core i7 due to this problem.
If you still want to do it, skip the Core i5 750 and go for the Xeon 3440 and you'll get HT and around the same clocks. You'll also want to disable Turbo so you'll be able to get the "same" upper clockspeed in not just one core but in all cores. The difference of higher speed with Turbo or higher speed without is almost always negligeble(~50MHz) but will vary from processor to processor.

From here, performance can loosely be split into two situations: Gaming and all other applications.


The Core i7 870 is very fast but very unattractive due to being priced at $562. If you're buying such an expensive processor, you're looking for something good and you should choose an LGA 1366 based platform with a cheaper Core i7 920 you can overclock easily and you'll get a more mature platform, free of hassles characteristic of new products. BIOS are refined, drivers are tweaked and you can get Multi-GPU via two x16 slots and not via x8 slots, which scales better with clock and is faster. If you don't want to overclock, get the Core i7 860 instead and get a better GPU - spending almost double for not much more is just silly.

As for cheaper builds, the Core i5 750 is a good processor but it doesn't come with HyperThreading enabled, which isn't a problem for now. It may be soon, if you want a long lasting platform. If so, get the Xeon 3440 instead, as the HT will make up for the slight lower clockspeed(133MHz). If you want to overclock, consider an LGA 1366 platform instead if you can. Look for prices below to help you make up your mind.

General performance:

It comes down to price but the Xeon 3440 seems a better option than the slower Core i5 750 due to the disabled HT on the i5. The Core i7 920 is also much faster and the motherboard can support the upcoming Core i9. I would just like to see the Xeon 3440 put against it to see what would be the better option, although platform costs would be something to take into consideration in that case. The i7 860 may also be a good option, the better one if also consider gaming once in a while.
Bottomline: Hyper Threading is your friend, you need it here.

Price considerations:

Xeon X3440 - $215
GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 - $109.99
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 - $82
Total: $407

Core i7 920 - $290
JetWay JBI-600-LF - $160
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 - $82
Total: $532

Prices were taken from an online retailer and products not just chosen on the cheaper ones but taking into consideration the user ratings, so you may find cheaper parts.
Take this only as a consideration for a multipurpose platform, not gaming, that was done before. The difference here is $125 between both systems, with the LGA1366 platform being somewhat cheaper than it should because of the choice of only 2x2GB DIMMs. The price difference will yield you:
  • Better performance, although not by much and mostly on multithreaded scenarios.
  • Upgrade possibility to Core i9 hexa-core processors
  • Two PCIe x16 slots for SLI/CrossFire, CUDA multi-GPU will benefit considerably.
  • Possibility to upgrade to tripple channel for bandwidth intensive applications, 12GB of RAM with mostly no problems.
  • DDR3-1600 will work flawlessly on stock(on "Lynnfield" it's still too early to be sure, Intel may have locked lower CPUs at 1333MHz)
  • Mature platform
If you don't care about overclocking or any of the above, go for the Xeon 3440. If you do care, especially for the upgrade possibilities, consider your financial options, it may be worth to pay the higher fee.

My personal opinion stands that AMD offers are still great on lower price points(not on $200 anymore, in any way) and I still don't trust my money on any Intel based platform since the very bad experiences I had with Core 2 for over a year.
As such, my platform of choice right now would consist of an AM2 Gigabyte or Jetway board, an unlocked Phenom II X3 720 overclocked to ~3.6GHz and 4GB of DDR2-800 - cheaper, stable and provides easy overclocks. No "Lynnfield" can be a choice when integrated graphics is an option, since Intel hasn't got one until "Clarkdale" based Core i3 and Core i5 processors are released towards the end of the year.

Until I received the e-mail from Intel this morning with the prices for Xeon processors, I wasn't to write this and say that the Core i7 920 wouldn't be the better choice, as it has been for a good while. The new Xeon X3440 changed my stance - it is an excellent option for a cheaper computer. The X3450 and the Core i7 860 also good choices, but the Core i7 860 mitigates the price difference for the LGA 1366 build and I consider that a better option for everything but the best price/performance non multi-GPU gaming platform. Hopefully, these LGA 1156 Xeon processors will be available shortly for purchase, as was the case with Core 2 based Xeons.


Anonymous said...

These new Xeons processors seem great, do you have any review for these ?

Tiago Marques said...


Unfortunately no. As I outlined, you can expect it to be as fast as the Core i7 750 in single threaded applications, like games, and close to the performarmance of the Core i7 920 when not bandwidth bound, and even then not by more than 5-10% - roughly speaking.
I would love to review one but these processors aren't yet available at retail.

Best regards

Tiago Marques said...

P.S.: They should be available at retail soon but now most of the orders are to be delivered to OEMs. The smart retailers will eventually request them to Intel, as happened with both LGA 1366 and LGA 775 based Xeons before, but the focus right now is delivering big orders of Core i5/i7.
If you can, hold on until they become available or grab the i7 860, which is plentiful.

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